Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Baby Splooch

I'm hanging around with Madeleina today and she was asking me about what she was like as a baby. She remembers all sorts of things that never happened and I remember all sorts of things that I wish had happened. Like I wish I wasn't so stinking stressed out all the time about money and had given her more time and piano lessons. I didn't. But in Iquitos we did play "One, two, three...twenty eight!" which was her signal to try to run past me at age two or three. In Spanish it makes more sense, but you get the point.
I adored her and still do, even though she tests me pretty often these days and today had the audacity to call me "the stupidest dad or semi-human ever created by the anti-Christ"--which was followed by a very bored sigh--which I thought was not only insightful but rude. I had to pause on that one.
But then she asked what she was like as a baby and I told her how perfect an angel she was, how many months she was see-through before she became solid. And I told her about how when she was still drinking Chepa's milk I'd burp her before I went to the High Times' office to work. And Chepa would always tell me to change my shirt because even if I cleaned-up the burped milk it left a stain and a bit of an odor.
And I always said 'no', because that was my baby's smell. And sometimes I'd be on the Lexington Avenue train, if it was a rainy day and I couldn't ride my bike and all the other dads and a few of the young moms who knew what that stain was would look at me and smile and I'd smile back: "Yes, mam, that's my baby's stain and I'm wearing it like a badge of honor. I wouldn't trade that smudge on my shirt for anything in the world." And they'd smile back because they had the same stains. And then me and a handful of people riding down from 86th street would become one: There is nothing in the world like having a baby and raising it and trying to be good for her or him and watching them grow, watching them laugh, watching them become flesh from angels and I've got friends, Tree and Mandala who have a new baby and I'm so wonderfully jealous. What a time they're in for! What a wonder, every day, they will get to witness.
Until, of course, they turn about 14 going on 60 and become all curmudgeonly and hate you but even then you know that's just the start of opening their own wings and they've got to do that if they're ever going to fly on their own.
I love my babies, even though they're growing and I'm missing my Italo, away at school, and my Marco, away at his girl's house much of the time, and even my Madeleina, away at Mom's a few days a week. I'd wear their burp stains any day, any time. Those are the stains that remind me that I'm dad, and I never loved anything as much as I loved being dad.
Maybe I'm feeling maudlin tonight because I can't be with the girl I want to be with. She lives far away. But I've still got my Madeleina and I am learning to take the love when it's offered.
I love you, my little Madeleina.
Dad

2 comments:

brief_respite said...

Sweet story :-)

Jorge Luis Villacorta Santamato said...

Nothing to say...